The beauty of Lucia

If you are in Swedish Lapland on December 13, make sure you visit a traditional Lucia celebration. Alongside Midsummer, the Lucia celebrations represent one of the foremost cultural traditions in Sweden, with their clear reference to life in the peasant communities of old: darkness and light, cold and warmth.

Lucia is an ancient mythical figure with an abiding role as a bearer of light in the dark Swedish winters. Lucia is organised in many churches around the country, featuring a choir of white-clad people in a solemn performance. The atmosphere in the church is amazing, as lights go out and the church is filled with candles. Classic Christmas songs are interspersed with modern compositions, sometimes accompanied by a smaller orchestra or beautiful organ music.

The Lucia tradition can be traced back both to the martyr St Lucia of Syracuse (died in 304) and to the Swedish legend of Lucia as Adam’s first wife. It is said that she consorted with the Devil and that her children were invisible infernals. The name may be associated with both lux (light) and Lucifer (Satan), and its origins are difficult to determine.